This write-up of mine is more like a little peek into my past and present. I would like to share how my childhood observations led me to ultimately connect to my real identity. Allah swt has been As Saboor with me, He led me patiently from one phase to another and made me see things from the right perspective.
To begin with, I must start by telling you about somebody.
An elderly lady clads in a humble white cotton saree, silvery wavy hair tied in a simple plait at the back, – this is the image I hold of my grandma. She used to like to help my mum with the food preparations, simple chores like plucking the mint leaves, taking the seeds out of the pea pod, or sorting the veggies after the shopping.
Whatever the chore might be, one tasbeeh I often used to hear my grandmother proclaim was Subhan Allah. She used to exclaim this at things that looked so insignificant and common to me. The layers of an onion, the closely placed peas inside the pod, the colour of a beetroot, the arrangement of corn kernels….it could’ve been anything to everything. But she never missed saying Subhan Allah.
This practice of hers always left me confused. Why does she say subhan Allah for trivial things? Was subhan Allah not a tasbeeh to be recited 32 times after salah? Or to be done 100 times on those special nights? This is where my deen was limited to.
As a family, we were quite thankful and a wee bit proud to be studying at one of the prestigious schools of the time. The English language was given preference (which is the same case even now . Some ostentatious things do not change!!!)
Observing fasts during Ramadhan, praying salah on special occasions, having a Quran teacher to help complete the recitation of the Quran, covering the head when attending a religious function …this was the arrangement of religious education and practice for me. I also took pride in calling myself a SECULAR Muslim because that made social situations easy for me. I didn’t feel it is necessary to carry my Muslim identity everywhere. And I chose to believe that I am balancing the two worlds just fine. The Deen and Duniya.
Allah swt has been merciful and patient with me. He made me learn about the life, about people, the world, cultures and myself, and my purpose as a human. Allah swt al Hakeem, moved me to another part of the world. A part that is considered the epitome of cultural excellence, the land of the Queen – England. Allah ta’ala had His subtle plans for my transformation and He also had my grandma’s Subhan Allah to make complete sense now.
For me as a human, the move was quite distressing. New people, new culture. But Allah is Al Haadi, the guide, and planner of my life, He knew how the move would benefit me.
He made me come across people of different ethnic backgrounds who chose Islam and were so comfortable with the new religion they embraced. They carried the Deen with such clarity and totality. This was an opportunity for me to contemplate. Who am I? Why did I always feel I needed to put Deen and Duniya in two separate boxes? Why did I classify myself as a secular Muslim? I am a Muslim and that is all it should be.
Secural Muslim, liberal Muslim, religious Muslim, practicing Muslim, fanatic Muslim, extreme Muslim. Who started these labels? Allah and His Prophet didn’t call people by such labels. These are the labels we gave ourselves to fit into certain situations and to classify other Muslims.
With the time I spent with others, one thing became clear to me, no matter how hard you try, you can never please everyone. The people around you, the cultures around you, keep changing. But I should uphold my identity no matter where I am. I can’t operate from different boxes.
Allah wants a Muslim to simply submit with all his heart. A Muslim who holds a pure, conscious, and acknowledging heart will naturally carry himself with utmost caution. After all, can a pure heart hold malice and rancour against anyone? Can a conscious heart ignore the signs of Allah and his responsibilities towards people? Can an acknowledging heart be in denial of his fate and carry an ego?
The Quran mentions Qalb-e-Saleem, whose literal meaning is an undamaged and sound heart. Allah swt says “The Day whereon neither sons nor wealth will avail, except him who brings to Allah Qalb-e-Saleem (a pure heart). [Al-Quran 26:88-89].”
Now I understand why my grandma used to say subhan Allah for things that I concluded as unremarkable. She had a conscious heart. She was pained by others’ pain, she was happy at other people’s achievements, and she could see Allah’s work of art in everything and that made her proclaim glory be to Allah.
The conscious heart will automatically acknowledge Allah’s message in everything around him.
It responds to situations, people, and things around them as Allah wants him to. People who are constantly conscious see the beauty and purpose in everything.
And after decades of my grandma passing away, I can still connect to her. Now I also say subhan Allah when I look at the most beautiful creations made by Allah swt (which at one point I assumed to be so insignificant). A blade of grass, the perfect placement of the corn, and the smell of an orange peel, puts in awe of the mighty creator. Maybe a very small level of consciousness has also entered my heart.
My journey of learning and observing is on. There is so much to learn from Muslims who stand up for their faith in spite of all the difficulties. Muslims who say alhamdulillah at the first instance of calamity. Muslims believe that difficulties come from Allah and the solution will also come from Allah. Muslims are always grateful no matter what troubles them. Muslims are always pure at heart. I feel there is a long way for me to go till my heart transforms into Qalb e Saleem.